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Why Outcome-Based Selling Works (And How To Do It)

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Beginning with the end in mind pays off, big time. 

Outcome-based selling is a powerful sales strategy that focuses on meeting customers’ needs and helping them to achieve their desired outcomes. It’s a customer-centric approach to sales that is becoming increasingly popular in the modern sales world. 

Why is it so beloved by forward-thinking sales strategists? Outcome-based selling can help you to increase your profits and build more meaningful relationships with your customers. We know that’s what most sales strategies promise to do. But in this unique moment in time, outcome-based selling suits the psychological and financial needs of customers more than ever before. 

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits and challenges of outcome-based selling, how to identify customer needs and desires, and how to craft the right message. We’ll also walk you through creating an effective outcome-based sales process, measuring the impact, and optimizing results. 

What is outcome-based selling?

Outcome-based selling is a sales strategy that involves understanding customers’ needs and goals and focusing on how your product or service can contribute to achieving those desired outcomes. The outcome-based approach shifts away from pain points, technical details, and short-term benefits toward the achievement of larger-scale outcomes.

How does outcome-based selling work?

Outcome-based selling is all about understanding and meeting customer needs in order to reach objectives. It’s a direct answer to the question, “what’s in it for me?” Although aligning the benefits of a product to a potential customer’s needs isn’t anything new, outcome-based selling has one crucial ingredient: helping customers achieve their desired outcomes rather than simply trying to sell them a product or service.

The strategy itself involves taking the time to identify and understand your customer’s needs, wants, and goals and then tailoring your outreach to meet those needs. You can increase your profits and build stronger relationships with your customers long-term with this approach. 

When you focus on outcome-based selling, you are able to provide customers with a more personalized experience. It’s no longer simply about “What do Marketing Managers like Amy look for in a product?” but “What does Amy the Marketing Manager really need right now? And most importantly, what can we do to support her?”

The benefits of outcome-based selling

Here are the top, high-level reasons why outcome-based selling might be right for your team: 

1. Quality over quantity

The biggest benefit of outcome-based selling is that it allows you to focus on the customer’s needs and desires, rather than simply trying to make a sale. It also allows for more meaningful conversations with customers, as you can discuss their goals and objectives and tailor your approach accordingly. 

2. Depth over breadth

Additionally, outcome-based selling can help you to increase customer trust and loyalty, as you are helping customers to achieve their desired outcomes. This approach builds better relationships with your customers because you are demonstrating that you are genuinely interested in helping them reach their goals.

3. Discovery of new opportunities

Outcome-based selling can help you to identify new opportunities for growth and expansion your team normally wouldn’t be able to uncover with other traditional sales techniques. 

For example, after doing a deep dive on your customer’s needs and goals, you can develop new products and services that meet those needs. This informs sales pitches, makes offers more useful, and can lead to high ROI add-ons no one had previously considered. 

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The challenges of outcome-based selling

Although outcome-based selling will likely continue to trend, there are some important factors to consider before you plan that pivot.

1. More investment required

Identifying customer needs and desires in order to craft an effective message takes time, energy, and resources. And it can take even more time to craft an effective outcome-based sales message than it would for a traditional cold outreach or generalized sales message. 

2. Long game ROIs

It can be difficult to measure the impact of outcome-based selling since relationship-building is a long-term game. Although there are certain key metrics involved with any customer-centric sales analytics, the amount your customers value this thoughtful approach isn’t completely capturable outside of testimonials and third-party reviews. 

The good news is there are plenty of solutions to these shortcomings. Having a well-defined process for crafting an effective outcome-based sales message makes it easy for teams to adopt and adapt as needed, saving time and energy in the long run. 

It’s also important to have a system in place for tracking and measuring the success of sales once the outcome-based sales strategy goes into effect. Over time you should begin to see patterns both in the quality of your customer feedback and revenue generated directly as a result of this method. 

Steps to implementing an outcome-based sales strategy

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all relationship-building strategy for your unique audience, but there are actions you’ll need to take to execute an outcome-based selling process regardless of what demographic, region, or industry you serve.

Here are the three main steps in an outcome-based approach to the sales process.

1. Identifying your customers’ needs and desires

In order to effectively use outcome-based selling, it’s important to understand your customer’s needs and desires. 

Ask questions

Ask questions to identify what the customer is looking for and what their goals are. Direct and transparent questions such as “what are your business goals for the year, quarter, or month?” are a great place to begin. Keep these as conversational as possible and allow them to come up naturally. 

Conduct research on the customers’ business and industry

Additionally, it can be helpful to research the customer’s industry and business in order to gain a better understanding of their needs and desires. Figure out what stage they’re in, which of the latest headlines in their industry news channels would directly impact them, and what are the biggest roadblocks in the path to success. 

Hint: These might not have anything to do with your product, and that’s more than okay at this stage. 

2. Craft outreach that focuses on the customers’ desired outcomes

Once you have identified the customer’s needs and desires, you can then craft an effective message that will meet those needs. You may be able to templatize the framework for the outreach just as long as you show your work when crafting the personalized portions.

Check out these tips for crafting an outcome-focused messaging:

  • Craft thoughtful messaging that offers sincerity, data-backed solutions, and shows that you did your research. 
  • Make communication all about them and their goals rather than making a pitch. 
  • Keep messages clear and concise to show that you value their time but also because it makes it easier for them to understand, remember, and pitch across their team later on. 
  • Personalize each message to show that you understand the customer’s unique situation, citing statistics, industry news, and even personal experience when needed. 
  • Be transparent about why you’re reaching out, why you think your solutions are viable, and why you care more about supporting them than making the sale. 
  • Account for the customers’ budget by providing them with options that meet their needs and desires at different price points. You can even offer packages that suit where they are now and give them a bird’s eye view of services you can later offer down the road after they’ve achieved certain benchmarks.

After sending your initial outreach, follow up with the customer just like you would in any other sales strategy, only this time pull from detailed notes about their goals then tie your conversations back to them. 

Follow up again after the sale is made to ensure they’re satisfied. Don’t forget to ask for—and implement—any feedback!

3. Measure your results and optimize your strategies

Once you have crafted an effective outcome-based selling process, it’s important to track each step in the process so you can discover patterns, tailor your next outreach so that it’s as effective as possible, and repeat successes down the road.

Measure your results

When implementing any sales strategy, having a system for measuring your results is essential. Here are the best metrics to track for outcome-based selling along with what they are and why they’re important: 

  • Conversion rates: The goal of the conversion rate is to measure the number of new customers that a sales strategy has generated per interaction. This is done by taking the total number of leads over a set period of time and dividing it by the number of sales to get a percentage. For outcome-based selling, conversion rates should be tracked from the first date of implementation since these will likely ramp up over time while relationships are being built and strengthened. 
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT score): The CSAT score is a measure of customer satisfaction that involves asking consumers how satisfied they are with a company’s products or services through surveys. Scales typically range from one to ten and the survey questions are designed to collect information about the customers’ experience. Since outcome-based selling is all about improving the experience for the customer, you should see an upward trend in this score for both new and returning clients. 
  • Sales numbers: This one is a bit self-explanatory. Revenue from qualified leads should expand under the outcome-based selling strategy. Remember to take into account other initiatives, press, and goals your brand may be pursuing over the time period you’ve begun to use outcome-based selling since these may indirectly impact your efforts. 
  • Repeat business: Are customers buying over and over again? Are they increasing their order numbers or adding on additional services? These numbers are a great indication of whether or not your relationship-building efforts are paying off. 

By tracking these metrics, you can identify areas where your process is successful and areas where it needs improvement.

Optimize your approach

Once you have tracked the success of your outcome-based selling process, it’s important to optimize it for maximum results. This can be done by identifying areas that need improvement and then adjusting your process accordingly. 

Consider using tech tools such as a customer relationship management (CRM) system with features like sales automation, pipeline management, and contact management to streamline your process and increase efficiency.

Getting started with outcome-based selling

Outcome-based selling is a powerful sales strategy that can help you increase your profits while building meaningful relationships with your customers. By understanding customers’ needs and desires, crafting an effective message, and honing your process, you can leverage outcome-based selling to maximize your results all while finding fresh ways to serve your customers. Talk about a win-win!

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